Sailing along the Portuguese coast post-war


With two of my colleagues, technical editor Chris Beeson, and photographer Graham Snook, about to join the Yachting Monthly Portugal Rally, it is appropriate that my current commuter train reading is A White Boat From England, by the late, great George Millar, yachtsman, reporter, author and war hero. With his slip of a wife, Isabel, he sailed the Robert Clark designed 45ft bermudan sloop, Serica, from Lymington to Antibes and en route stopped at many Portuguese ports in the early 1940s.
But the part of the book that had me sitting alone in the sidings at Fenchurch Street as the rest of the morning herd tramped into the City, is when the boat is anchored on a lee shore off Sines. Millar is lying prostrate in a hotel bed, suffering from shell fish poisoning. His diminutive, but spirited spouse, is – her broken left arm in plaster from a horse-riding accident – batting off demands of money from drunken fishermen at the hotel bedroom door who claim to have been looking after the yacht.
Eventually Millar regains his strength and the pair get back aboard. To Millar’s horror he finds one anchor warp has parted and the bower anchor is at the end of all its cable the last link of which has torn the anchoring eyebolt from the deadwood over the keel. The only thing stopping the gracious yacht from becoming matchwood on the rocks of the Atlantic coast, is the eyebolt which has jammed in the hawse pipe!
I recommend this book, published by Heinemann in 1951, to any yachtsman who can find one and I wish the sailors on the YM rally a fair north wind and not the snorting southerly gales faced by the Millars.